C.J. Davison, J. Balanyk

With the increasing prevalence of smartphones in students’ pockets, many instructors would like to find ways to exploit the devices to help students engage in learning. In this paper, we will undertake a case study of how a university in the United Arab Emirates designed, developed and implemented an ambitious, pedagogically sound, self-access mobile app called AVA (Academic Vocabulary App). Using AVA, students learn and practice the vocabulary most useful for university study. Building on the students' first language of Arabic, the app is made up of 13 different activity types and utilises features of gamification and adaptive learning to make the experience motivating and meaningful.

When undertaking an educational technology project in a university, like the development of an educational app, an instructional designer from the campus teaching and learning centre is often involved (Omodele Fyle, Moseley & Hays, 2012). The role of the instructional designers in projects can vary widely, and they often fulfil responsibilities that are peripheral to competency in designing quality instruction (Schwier & Wilson, 2010). We will focus on the role of the instructional designer as the hub of the project to move AVA from an idea to a completed app used in classes.

More specifically, we will examine our use of the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) (Allen & Sites, 2012) for iterative design, iterative development and rollout phases. In the design phase, we will discuss the collaborative work to prototype and build technical specifications between the Subject Matter Experts (SME) and instructional designer. In the development phase, we will examine the ID’s communication role between the SME’s and the technical developers, and the multiple cycles need to create a useable product that met the specifications. Finally, we will cover the rollout phase of the app with testing processes, use by pilot student groups and transition of the implementation and support to the college. We will also include a discussion the factors we perceive as crucial to moving an educational app development project in a university moving forward, and the lessons we have learned.

[1] Allen, M. & Sites, R. (2012). Leaving ADDIE for SAM: An Agile Model for Developing the Best Learning Experiences. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.
[2] Omodele Fyle, C., Moseley, A. & Hayes, N. (2012). Troubled times: the role of instructional design in a modern dual-mode university? Open Learning, 27(1), 53-64. DOI: 10.1080/02680513.2012.640784
[3] Schwier, R. & Wilson, J. (2010). Unconventional roles and activities identified by instructional designers. Contemporary educational technology, 1(2), 134-147.